Although Jesse Jones has been a professional musician since the mid-1960's, he did not have his first opportunity to lead his own record date until he was already 52. When he was in the sixth grade, Jones was given a C-melody saxophone by his mother and he quickly learned the instrument, being completely self-taught. While in eighth grade he also learned how to play bassoon and had switched to alto. After graduating from Mississippi Valley State College, he spent part of his four years in the Navy playing with a large show band. Jones lived in Boston for a couple years in the early 1970's and then returned to Miami where he has since been a major part of the city's jazz scene ever since. With his younger brother trumpeter Melton Mustafa, Jones started the Melt-Jess Jazz Quintet. After Mustafa joined Count Basie, Jones (who also plays with his brother's big band) formed his own quartet. Jesse Jones, who considers his biggest influences to be Cannonball Adderley, Hank Crawford and Paul Desmond, recorded Soul Serenade for Contemporary in 1996.